We are a Bible-centered church. We are a decidedly confessional church. We are a Presbyterian church. We are an historical church. We are a pilgrim church. We are a covenantal church. We are an evangelical church. We are a Reformed church.
We believe that “man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever,” and worship is at the heart of who we are as Christians. We place a very high priority on worship.
The term “liturgy” has a bad reputation among evangelicals who associate the term with man-made traditions. But the word actually comes from the Greek word leitourgia, which is derived from two words, laos (people) and ergon (work). Therefore, liturgy is “the work of the people.” It is what God’s people do when they assemble to worship God as one body. With this definition, every church has a liturgy. Some liturgies are less and some are more formal.
Now, as we look at liturgical worship, the definition implies that it is primarily corporate in nature. We are not simply a group of individuals, worshiping God individually, who just happen to be in the same room at the same time. There is a place in life for private worship, but in corporate worship we worship God as one body and so we leave our individualism at home. Moreover, worship is not a means to evangelize. The church ought to evangelize, and evengelism may take place in the worship service, but the worship service should not be designed for unbelievers. Worship is a meeting between God and His covenant people.
The Bible places several important principles for worship.
I Corinthians 14:40, “All things should be done decently and in order.” This is because “God is not a God of confusion but of peace (I Corinthians 14:33).” This teaches us that worship should not be chaotic. How do we provide maximum participation on the part of every worshiper (and not just of a worship leader or a worship team) and yet do so in an ordered, peaceful manner? The solution is in engaging in worship in a way that is truly corporate (performed by the Body as a whole and not simply by individuals). So we sing hymns corporately, we pray corporately, and we respond corporately. That is liturgical worship.
Also, liturgical worship is catholic, that is, it connects us to believers around the world and down through the ages. We are reminded that we are not just a local assembly but that we belong to yet a larger body. So, we recite the Nicene Creed, pray the Lord’s Prayer, recite Psalms together which have been recited by the saints for centuries.
One more thing about Reformed Liturgy. We understand worship to be a meeting between God and His covenant people. Therefore, our liturgy is structured around a covenantal dialogue between God and the congregation. God speaks, the people respond. God speaks again, the people respond. This adds a dimension to our understanding worship. It is not just that we are preforming for God, but that He is meeting us, feeding us with His presence and word, comforting and admonishing us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Considerable research has been done which shows that Christian worship follows the pattern of Jewish synagogue worship. Moreover, ancient Christian liturgy is divided into two parts: the Synaxis (the liturgy of the Word) and the Eucharist (the liturgy of the Table). The first part, the Synaxis, like in the synagogue, the service focused on the reading and teaching of the Scriptures, the singing of Psalms, and corporate (liturgical) prayer. After the Scriptures are read, a portion of the Scripture is expounded in the sermon. In the Reformed tradition, we also seek to continue the synagogue practice of singing the Psalms.
The second half of the liturgy, the Eucharist, is the liturgy of the Lord’s Supper. The pattern of the early church, mentioned to us in Acts 2:42, was that they devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of the bread (the Eucharist), and to the prayers (corporate prayer). Although currently we celebrate the Lord’s Supper every other month, we do believe and confess that the Lord’s Supper is a means of grace just as surely as the reading and preaching of the Word are means of grace.
We follow a liturgy that corresponds to the ordo salutis, the “order of salvation,” which also leads us from Guilt to Grace to Gratitude. This brings a symmetry and structure to the liturgy and moves us from confession to praise, then to faith, then to awe and wonder, and finally to humility as we realize that we are in the presence of the Living Christ, who comes to feed from His Word.
"Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30